Peregrine falcon banders found four chicks and two parents when they climbed up the smokestack of Minnesota Power’s Hibbard Renewable Energy Center in Duluth this week.
Amy Ries of the Iowa-based Raptor Resource Project said the peregrine family, nested in a box built for their use, was about 100 feet above the roof of the electric generating station in West Duluth.
Earlier in the month crews climbed a similar smokestack at the utility’s Boswell Energy Center in Cohasset where they found four more chicks.
All of the chicks are banded so birding experts can track their migration and where they end up nesting as adults. Chicks hatched in Northland nest boxes have been reported spending their winters in Florida, Central America and on oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.
This year’s total brings to 92 the number of falcons banded at both sites over the past 23 years.
Peregrines, once thought to be headed to extinction, have made a dramatic comeback in recent years, thanks in large part to the ban of the pesticide DDT which caused their egg shells to become too fragile to hatch, but also because of efforts to crate nesting boxes in high areas where they like to swoop down on their prey — namely smaller birds.
Another similar structure has been successful on Duluth’s Greysolon Plaza building downtown, and peregrines have been known to nest atop the tall bridges in Duluth’s harbors.
Bird enthusiasts can watch the chicks and their parents on live web cameras located on both smokestack nest boxes. Go to www.mnpower.com/Environment/FalconCam.